Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We are quickly approaching an important deadline in the legislative session: fiscal committee cutoff. Bills not voted out of their assigned fiscal committee by Friday, March 1, will be “dead” and no further legislative action will be taken on them. Initiatives and bills considered necessary to implement the budget are the only exceptions.
For many bills, dying is the best thing they can do for Washington residents. House Republicans have managed to get rid of some really bad bills. However, with fewer seats in both the House and Senate, it's been an uphill battle. Stay tuned! In my next legislative update, I'll share a list of important bills that survived the cutoff.
Click here for a quick look at what's happening in House Committees this week.
Please fill out my legislative survey!
I'd like to hear what you have to say about some controversial topics being debated in Olympia. Please take a few moments to fill out my legislative survey. It contains a handful of multiple-choice questions and should only take a couple minutes to complete. I'll highlight the results in my next email update. If you need additional information on any part of the survey, feel free to contact my office. I'm happy to help!
Surprise medical billing
After visiting an emergency room a few years ago, I received a “surprise” bill for out-of-network services not covered by my insurance. As a member of the House Health Care and Wellness Committee, I was shocked to learn how many people have been hit with this kind of unexpected medical billing. That's why in 2017, I co-sponsored legislation to help. Unfortunately, the bill was not approved.
Thankfully this session, House Bill 1065—establishing the Balanced Billing Protection Act— continues to move through the legislative process. Under the bill, instead of making the patient pay the balance when an insurance company doesn't cover out-of-network charges, the care and insurance providers would need to negotiate payments among themselves. The bill was approved the by the House Appropriations Committee Monday, February 25. It now awaits a vote by the full House Chamber.
The big push for universal health care
There is a big push towards universal, single-payer government-based health care this session. Senate Bill 5526 and House Bill 1523 would require the Washington Health Benefit Exchange to develop standardized health plans. I believe these bills would cause many providers to leave their networks, limit choices, and dramatically increase health care costs for all Washingtonians.
It's not cheap for tax-payers to provide universal state-based health coverage. In fact, in 2014 the state of Vermont totally abandoned their plans for a single-payer health care system when funding estimates revealed a 47 percent increase in the state budget would be needed to sustain it.
I'm extremely concerned about health care coverage and affordability. However, this is not the way to provide it. Both bills were approved in committee with no Republican support.
I'd like to take a moment to thank everyone who has reached out to me this session with your comments, concerns or questions. Your feedback is extremely valuable! Please feel free to contact me anytime. I'm always happy to hear from you!
Thank you for allowing me to represent you in Olympia!